What I'm Seeing Now

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Receptacle Boxes "Shall Be Flush With The Finished Surface"

The IRC code says that receptacle boxes "shall be flush with the finished surface."

Receptacle boxes installed post facto to the construction of the house are often incorrectly done.

There are many reasons for that - possible damage to the box or receptacle, looseness developing over time, the escape of a spark - many reasons.

Who knows the history here.

This is new phone/cable/internet equipment installed near the electrical panel box.

Was the receptacle installed to accommodate that equipment, or did the equipment installers cut the paneling to accommodate the receptacle box to plug in their equipment?

I would bet on the former.  It is not usual that any of the new dish or internet installers would want to get involved with cutting paneling, splitting wiring, installing a new receptacle box and then sealing it all up when they are done.  The wall was painted recently, so any other damage was covered by that.

The equipment people may have come and said they needed a new receptacle here or there and the homeowner complied.

But aside from being odd looking, it is incorrect.

See how the box extends nearly 1/2" from the wall?  Incorrect.  For the reasons stated at the top of the post.

My problem with this?  Aside from proper installation, it usually means that the receptacle box, and therefore the wiring behind, was installed by a non professional!  And therefore without a permit.

Who did it?  Where did they get the wiring from?  Is there a splice somewhere behind that section cut out of the paneling?  Tarzan no like.

My clients are in another state.  They are investors for whom I have done many inspections.  They are VERY risk averse, necessarily.  The house has not been occupied for some time.  They will have to have all my concerns investigated.  Which is no problem - they are used to doing this.  But it should be done.

My recommendation:  when some things look odd, they probably are!  You are used to seeing things that are properly done, which is why the odd stands out.  If you see any oddity on a home inspection, ask!  And if it is wrong the home inspector will observe and report.

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 35 commentsJay Markanich • June 25 2014 03:59AM

Comments

Good morning Jay,

At least they did not have to remove the cover to paint behind it!

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 4 years ago

And THAT must have been the goal, Raymond!

Silly me...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, It really is amazing how often these are installed incorrectly. Often they are too deep also and they float the receptacle.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Don - I found the two on the kitchen island in NEW CONSTRUCTION the other day to be 1" too deep!  Why they put them that deep is beyond my ability to understand.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, Yikes, isn't ok to pull wires from anywhere? I mean power is power right? Anyone can do this stuff.

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) over 4 years ago

Tom - anyone who watches HGTV knows how to do it perfectly!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Good evening Jay. Does IRC stand for Irrational Residential Consortium? Just wandering somewhere behind the sparks and electrons.

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 4 years ago

Yes, yes it does Michael.  And keep wandering!  You will arrive.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay,

Wow!  That's nowhere near flush!  Your clients will have to decide what to do won't they?  

Posted by 1 ~Judi & Don Barrett & Chassy Eastep - Integrity, BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK (Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745) over 4 years ago

That reeks homeowner installation Judi.  Along with a few other things in this house!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Little problems can become big issues if there are enough of them. 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 4 years ago

And there were a few in this house, James!  And a couple of biggies!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Wouldnt it be great just one time to see a guy on HGTV get shocked when doing some dumb install like this?

 

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 4 years ago

Jay,  we see a lot of DIY electrical here especially in the towns with no code enforcement. Heck if you read the manual anyone can be an electrician...  right? 

Posted by Dana Basiliere, Making deals "Happen" (Rossi & Riina Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Nice post regarding what is correct.  I happen to live in one of those areas with very little code that Dana mentioned and I do see some interesting DIY projects.  I think your remark about if it looks odd then ask is about a perfect as it gets!

Posted by Anna Hatridge, Missouri Realtor with Goodson Realty (Goodson Realty) over 4 years ago

Reminds me of our first house - lots of things that would have concerned an inspector, if we'd had one! 1980, listing agent was also "our" agent....

As my new neighbor mentioned one day, Leroy had been a guy who "started vast projects with half-vast plans".

Oh - and we did have an electrical fire after a few years :(

Posted by Ingrid LeMasters, *** I'm not in sales; I'm in CUSTOMER SERVICE (Duffield Realty) over 4 years ago

Reminds me of previewing a townhome that was being remodeled. Why the agent had it on the market in that state, I have no idea.

With drywall removed from some walls, we could easily see the electrical wiring running AROUND the studs rather than THROUGH them.  Too much work, I suppose.  

I don't know much about code, but I know that's wrong!

Posted by Buster Avila, None (RE/MAX Metro ) over 4 years ago

Now if that 'electrician' had seen a few blog posts by Billy Bob, they would have known to just use more caulk or duct tape to smooth the surface

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 4 years ago

Certainly "less than professional" even if it does meet code.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Scott - too edited!  They would never let that one out!

Dana - it's a really long manual!

Anna - how often do you see this?  That makes it odd!

Ingrid - in those days there were no real home inspections done, in today's sense anyway.  Some people would ask engineers or architects to come by to look at this or that, but there was no general inspection.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Yes, Lisa, wrong, but how better to support the wires, thus keeping them from falling on the floor?

Kidding of course.

Ed - and the lack of chewing gum (fruit is preferred over mint in electrical installations) was most distrubing.

Only in the bureaucrat's office, Charlie.  Four Legs good, Two Legs bad.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I can't even imagine what you see in your day. I like the statement that if something seems wrong....it probably is. Great advice for life too.

Posted by Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner, Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395 (Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395) over 4 years ago

I agree Karen.  Odd is odd, especially in life.

When good is called bad, and bad is called good, that is ODD at best.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

EXCELLENT point and something that I will watch for! THANK YOU!!

Posted by Travis "the SOLD man" Parker; Associate Broker, email: Travis@theSOLDman.me / cell: 334-494-7846 (Team Linda Simmons, Enterprise, AL 36330) over 4 years ago

Could be homeowner installation or as you said, a dish or internet installer. I'm sure all those installers aren't the same but there sure seems to be a lot of them that do really shoddy work.

Posted by Dave Hymes (RE/MAX Gold) over 4 years ago

Any time Travis.  If it looks odd, it's likely odd.

Dave - if you look at the equipment it is from a company that begins with V.  But those installers never put in receptacles, only the equipment.  It's likely they told the homeowner they needed to come back after a receptacle was in place, and he put it in.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

That looks like an easy repair job, isn't it? Obviously the wires are in the wall, so recessing the block should be relatively easy, shouldn't it?

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) over 4 years ago

I don't know Kimo.  It may necessitate removing the paneling from the wall and resituating that box.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

First, I really dislike the idea that homeowners should need to get a permit for every little thing they do.

But... that means they should have some sense. When it comes to electricity, plumbing, and structural issues, they should have the brains to know what they don't know and hire a professional.

Your non-recessed box reminded me of my grocery store days. The walk-in cooler - which was, by the way, installed by a professional - had a metal light switch box that stuck out. Twice I pulled the winder pin out of my good wristwatch on that darn thing. Then I switched to a cheap watch. I could have instead learned to move more slowly, but that wasn't likely to happen.

Posted by Marte Cliff, your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 4 years ago

They don't here Marte.  They can sign an form that says they are doing it themselves.  New electrical does require a permit or signature as it can be a fire hazard.

A metal switch box can be on the outside wall.  I used to go into the walk-in fridge at Burger Chef and pour liquid milkshake mix into a cup and drink it.  It was like a really thick chocolate milk!  Never got caught...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay - How many times have we heard the term "that is good enough" used when something is not quite right?  Right is right and there are no exceptions.  All those "darn code requirements" came from lessons learned and some of those lessons came the hard way, read someone killed.  Do it right the  first time, even if it means tearing the whole thing out and starting over.  Thanks for the blog.

Posted by Steve Ewing - Keller Williams Realty (Keller Williams) over 4 years ago

I don't know or understand all the reasons.   But I am smart enough to know that that just does not look right.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Steve - I had a very argumentative realtor tell my clients today that there were no codes in 1971 when the house was built, so not to listen to me.  Ummm.

Gene - look at your kitchen counter - are all the receptacles flush with the wall?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Great post Jay. Hope you don't mind me linking it to my Manufactured Home Sales and Lending Industry group and reposting it on my blog. This is very relative to the Factory Built Housing remodel biz.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) over 4 years ago

I see that John.  What exactly is the blight?  Electrical boxes that stick out?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

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